We may earn commissions if you use the recommended services on this site.  

Successful CEO Dumps Startup, Builds $1.4 Billion Business Instead

Latest Business News

CEO's Bold Move: Abandoning a "Pretty Good" Startup to Build a $1.4 Billion Business

Spenser Skates and Curtis Liu, co-founders of Amplitude, made a daring decision that changed the trajectory of their careers. Initially running a voice recognition startup called Sonalight, they recognized that their idea, though promising, wasn't the best they could work on. They shut down Sonalight and redirected their focus towards building analytics tools. This move led to the creation of Amplitude, an analytics software business that now boasts a market cap of $1.35 billion and over 2,100 corporate clients.

The Pursuit of Greatness

Skates and Liu's decision to abandon Sonalight was driven by their desire to pursue a "breakout, massive" success rather than settling for something "pretty good." They understood the importance of building great ideas rather than just good ones. This mindset fueled their search for a problem that aligned with their strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

The Power of Analytics

After exploring different ideas, Skates and Liu recognized the potential of analytics. As algorithms experts, they found building a distributed data store and solving the complex problem of analytics to be within their wheelhouse. They had already built their own analytics tools in-house for Sonalight and discovered that many other companies desired the same insights. This realization led them to build Amplitude and cater to the analytics needs of various businesses.

The Risk-Averse Nature of Engineers

Skates reflects on the challenges of recruiting fellow engineers from MIT to start a company. While many expressed excitement, few were willing to take the leap due to risk aversion. Engineers often seek a clear path to success and validation, which contrasts with the uncertainty and risk inherent in startups and entrepreneurship. In conclusion, Spenser Skates and Curtis Liu's decision to abandon Sonalight and build Amplitude highlights the importance of pursuing greatness and recognizing when an idea falls short of its potential. Their success story serves as inspiration for new businesses, emphasizing the need to strive for breakthrough success and embrace uncertainty in order to achieve significant impact.


The bold decision made by Spenser Skates and Curtis Liu to abandon Sonalight and build Amplitude offers a crucial lesson for new businesses. It emphasizes the importance of not settling for "pretty good" but instead relentlessly pursuing greatness.

Impact on New Businesses

New businesses must be willing to critically assess their ideas and recognize when they fall short of their potential. This might require abandoning a promising idea for a better one, as Skates and Liu did.
Embracing Uncertainty
The story also highlights the need for new businesses to embrace uncertainty and risk. This is particularly relevant for engineers who tend to be risk-averse and seek clear paths to success.

Analytics as a Game-Changer

Moreover, Skates and Liu's success with Amplitude underscores the power of analytics. New businesses can leverage analytics to gain valuable insights into their customers' behavior and make data-driven decisions. In a nutshell, the journey of Skates and Liu serves as a valuable guide for new businesses. It encourages them to pursue greatness, embrace uncertainty, and leverage the power of analytics to build successful businesses.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/18/ceo-shuttered-pretty-good-startup-built-1-billion-business-instead.html
Brought to you by BusinessFormation.io
Know Your State's Registered Agent Requirements: What is a Registered Agent
Learn How To Create An LLC: What Is An LLC and How To Start an LLC Online

LLC Filing & Registered Agent Services

Compare Online LLC Filing Services Today

We work with the market leaders in business formation and registered agent services.

Getting started is simple and inexpensive. Form your business today & secure your brand name before someone beats you to it! Click below to view the Top 3 Best LLC and registered agent service providers.
View Top 3 Providers Now

Filing An LLC Can Be Complicated

Streamline Your LLC Filing Online for $39

Northwest Registered Agent is the best-rated service for first time filers.

Get professional LLC formation & registered agent services for only $39 + state filing fee. This offers includes your full LLC setup, plus a private business address, lifetime support, and more.

Trusted by Millions. Save 82% Today.